Organizing DIY Projects with a Bullet Journal

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Today, I want to talk about something different: project organization. I struggle with how to keep my thoughts organized. I have so many ideas and so many lists and notebooks, not to mention all of the digital stuff.

I am working on getting it all organized and I recently ran across a concept called the Bullet Journal that I find intriguing. Many people use this technique as a planner or a journal. I’ve seen it used for food planning and exercising. It’s a very versatile system.

I recently set one up that I use for personal appointments, blog planning stuff, and house project organization. Of course, I have to tie projects into it, right?

Bullet journals can be as simple or complex as you are. They can be used for anything that you can think of. The simplicity of a bullet journal lends to their versatility.

bullet journal

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I love list making. It’s so therapeutic to scratch out a task when you’re done. A bullet journal builds on that.

One of the hardest things to me about using a planner is that the list making portions are too small. I could make my own, but the thought of trying to organize it hurts my brain.

A bullet journal uses an index so that you can let go of the need to perfect the organization. You can add it to it as new ideas come, because a bullet journal utilizes an index.

For instance, if you’re only partially through February, but decide to add a list of books, you can flip to the next page and start your new list. As I did!

bullet journal

As you can see, February uses pages 5-12 so far and continues at page 17. I used pages 13-16 for making a book list. Some friends and I are doing this book challenge and I thought it would make it easier for me if I wrote them all out with room to add books that I’m interested in for the category.

It’s also a place to add other books that I want to read. I use goodreads as well, but this makes it easier for me to add them later when I run across a good one.

Elements of a bullet journal:

  • Index. Like I’ve shown above, this is where you list your pages, enabling you to add stuff as you need to.
  • A key (if you need one for symbols)                                                              
    bullet journal
                                                       The symbols mean different things (called signifiers).
  • I also used colored highlighters to differentiate at a glance different things, such as birthdays, school stuff for the kids, and blog or house stuff. They overlap too much to need their own categories.
  • A future log where you add things to later add to the monthly or weekly logs. So say it’s February, but you get invited to a party in April. This is where you would log that so when April comes, you know to add it to the appropriate page. I have censored this page for the privacy of others.                                                                               
    bullet journal
  • The monthly log can be written as a list or in a grid like a calendar. I prefer as a list, with a weekly calendar view. This is where I list out all appointments for the month. If you’re really busy, it might need to be broken into morning, noon, evening, all day. I also drew a tiny calendar view for the month, but the details are added to the weekly part. The following page is a good place to list tasks for the month. This will also vary. For instance, in birthday months, you know that birthday presents need to be purchased. Monthly goals can also be put here. Other things that you track monthly can be put here as well. I think this is a great place to put house tasks, such as ordering a water filter or changing smoke alarm batteries.           
    bullet journal
  • The weekly log. This is where I can see at a glance what I need to do for the week. This is a good place to meal plan. I use it for blog posts. Blog posts are related to my house projects, so this is a good place to list out the tasks for these. For instance, if I want to post about my son’s room, I know that I need to clean it up and photograph it. This is also a good place to put a checklist. I can see at a glance (and feel guilty) that I didn’t run this week. If this ends up being a pain, I’ll scrap this portion.                
    bullet journal
  • Daily log. This is your to-do list for each day. At the end of the day, whatever is left, you either move to the following day, or decide that it wasn’t that important. For large projects, this would come in handy for listing out tasks. For instance, for my bathroom, Day 1 would have: “Remove vanity, remove toilet, remove flooring,” instead of just demo.                                                                                             
    bullet journal

*I’ve decided to combine the calendar view for the week with the daily log. The bottom right corner lists a task list for an upcoming project. This is fine here, but needs to be added to the index.

After I added this list here, I decided to use another notebook solely for projects. It will also be used as a bullet journal, with an index, but I’m skipping the future log, monthly log and daily log portions. It just goes straight to projects.

bullet journal

As you can see, I listed out all of the materials that I know I will need for my bathroom, their estimated prices (based on internet prices) and any relevant drawings and/or measurements.

This will be followed by a task list. I find that projects are easy when I start, but as I get to the finishing details, I need an in-depth task list to help me finish.

A project section in my bullet journal is perfect for me because I like to think of lots of projects at once. So while I have a bathroom remodel and a mini update for my son’s room immediately in my future, I’m also thinking about what I want to plant in the spring, making a mini workspace in the unused portion of the basement, reupholstering a chair, and wallpapering the upstairs hallway.

I use pinterest for these ideas of course, but I like to make lists too. Any project starts with prep work and I find it more satisfying when I can check it off the list. The bathroom needed to be measured and needed a shopping list with approximate prices. Building projects need shopping lists and cut lists.

This is also a good place to write down paint colors. It’s also a good place to organize all of those tasks that need to be done, but always get forgotten about (ahem, curtain rods.)

I like the thought of housing my bullet journal(s) in a midori notebook. My friend has one and I blatantly stole the idea from her. I even bought the same journals.

A midori is a refillable notebook holder. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $35-$50 on a real one. What if I don’t end up sticking with this method for organization? I know myself too well.

If I find an easier method, I’ll use that instead and then I’m out $35-$50! Plus, the journals I bought are too big for a midori. So I decided to make my own. Fake midoris are called fauxdori. It’s a thing.

The entire project cost me $12 and about 10 minutes.

How to make a fauxdori

bullet journal

The supplies:

  1. Fold the leather in half to create a crease. This will give you an idea of where the center is. At the top and bottom, make 2 holes about 1/2″ apart, creating 4 holes in total. I added arrows, in case the marks are hard to see.                                                    
    bullet journal
  2. Use a hammer and nail to poke holes through the leather. There are special tools for this too, but I don’t regularly work with leather. A nail worked fine. I used a sketchbook back to protect my table from holes.
    bullet journal
  3. Use an awl to make the holes larger. (I’m not sure where my real awls are, so I used a pointy thing on a multi-tool.                                                
    bullet journal
  4. Thread the 25″ piece of elastic cord through the holes starting from the outside bottom to the inside and up to the top. Poke it through the hole at the top through the outside and back inside. The cord goes down to the bottom and back out on the outside of the leather. (Follow the pink arrows.) The black arrow shows where to put one more hole. It goes in the center of one of the flaps. (We’ll come back to this hole in a few minutes.)
    bullet journal
  5. Here’s what the inside will look like: 
    bullet journal
  6. The elastic cord tail on the right will go into the left hole (from the outside) and the left tail will go into the right hole. When tightening the cord, the leather should bow a little.
    bullet journal
  7. With the leather bowed a bit from tension, tie the strings in a knot on the inside. Don’t cut the strings just yet. They can be used as bookmarks.            
    bullet journal
  8. Remember the 5th hole that you made the a flap center in step 4? Thread the 10″ elastic cord through the hole from the inside, leaving a loop an the outside.
    bullet journal
                                                                                                                      (Outside view of loop)
  9. Tie the strings on the inside, leaving the loop on the outside. This loop will keep your notebook shut. 
    bullet journal
                                                                                                                        (Inside view of knot)
  10. Open your journal to the center and position the long elastic string in the center. It will hold 2 journals. 
    bullet journal
  11. Ta da!! You just made your own fauxdori for your bullet planner!
bullet journal

What would you use a bullet journal for?

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